Often I think we as parents want to let our kids help us, yet sometimes are in such a rush that it is easier to do it ourselves. Little do we think that taking a simple moment to let them help do the smallest things not only teaches them real life skills, but also gives kids great independence that they truly enjoy. Oh and let’s not forget the few extra moments it can give you to relax also! This is where you are laughing, I’m sure!
With a traveling husband, often I have had to teach my kids to help in different ways at a younger age then some would think. For instance, at the age of ten, my daughter can already do a load of laundry on her own. Her laundry skills started at the age of four with me asking her to separate the laundry into piles. As an event coordinator and planner, I do tend to be a little controlling at times. So letting the kids help was a little difficult for me! Not that I am a stickler or anything when it comes to doing things, but rather just doing tasks how I like them to be done. I mean let’s face it, often it is so much easier for us to do things ourselves rather than have, or even think about letting them do it. Yet, the older the kids got, the more I worked and the more I had to start having them help.
Growing up living the country life, we had plenty of chores to keep us busy. At our house AND while we were at a friend’s house. If you went over to your friend’s house, you had to help them with feeding the animals and chores before just hanging out. That was how we hung out sometimes, doing chores with friends on the farm. However, laundry was not really a chore I had to do when I was young, but I was out feeding, training and caring for the farm animals. Now, here I am as a parent who does not live in the country and I found myself wondering at what age do we start assigning the kids chores? How do I teach responsibility without having a farm and list of chores to do. I wanted my kids to feel the responsibility skill I learned growing up, but how? It was that thought that gave me the idea of letting them do a few little things around the house. After all, ya gotta start somewhere. So let me share a few easy “chores” both of my kids started doing at the age of 3 and 4 years old. A couple may seem comical, but it is those silly chores that gave me ten minutes of sanity!
- sort laundry into piles
- bring their laundry basket to the laundry room
- give them a baby wipe and ask them to clean the light switches
- refill the juice boxes in the fridge
- put their shoes on the shoe rack
- put their toys away (changes with ages)
- after laundry was folded, they had to put it away
- scanning items at the grocery store self check out
No really let’s think about this for minute…one little task to us as adults, can teach a child more than we think. Separating laundry was not just a life lesson to teach my child, it also encompassed colors and sorting. In school they are taught from early preschool age about patterns, colors, and sorting. This one little chore to you, is a life long lesson to them and you are actually helping them apply skills they are learning at school to real life. That almost could be counted as a math lesson in itself! Not to mention, how you feel so awesome inside as a parent! I remember thinking “this is genius”! So my daughter went from sorting laundry at the age of four to doing her first full load of laundry at the age of nine. These are things around the house that are regular everyday chores to us as adults, but in reality, every chance I gave them to help they acted better, listened better, wanted to learn more and wow did things go a little bit easier! At times we went from stressed and yelling to allowing and letting, which truly can be more help then we would have ever imagined. Not to mention that as they have gotten a little older, I now get a few extra moments to do something else or even relax! Yea, I am sure some of you are laughing (again) right now. You might be surprised how much it can help you, and if all else fails…it sure does keep them busy and behaving for just a few minutes! Giving you what you sometimes need…just a moment of everyone being calm!
Just remember that YOU get to teach them real life! Let them be kids, but let them help you! Let your kids feel just a little bit of independence and they will use that skill at times in life when you least expect it!